Those countries include: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.Secretary Nielsen said DHS would review and possibly update the refugee high-risk country list, which hasn't changed since 2015.
The Department of Homeland Security is resuming normal processing of refugees from 11 countries that had previously only been admitted on a "case-by-case" basis.
"We will be rolling out new security measures for applicants from high-risk countries, which will seek to prevent the [refugee] program from being exploited by terrorists, criminals and fraudsters", DHS Secretary Kirtjen Nielsen said Monday at an event in Washington, adding that the changes "will not only improve security, but importantly, they will help us better assist legitimate refugees fleeing prosecution". The administration is not publicly identifying those countries, but according to the group Refugee Council USA, which represents refugee resettlement agencies and other non-governmental organizations, the list now includes Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. A "risk-based manner" in selecting refugees would mean considering the overall refugee admissions ceiling of 45,000 people; regional and geographic allocations; and the groups of applicants considered for resettlement, the senior official said.
The officials wouldn't identify the 11 countries.
Officials would not elaborate on the additional screening measures in a call with reporters, but said numerous changes will be implemented before June.
That senior administration official added there were other security threats aside from national security threats like transnational crimes.
Administration officials insisted that the directive complies with a Seattle federal court's order temporarily halting the Trump administration from enforcing the refugee ban. But senior administration officials on Monday denied that religion had play a part. "That said, the USCIS and DHS can speak to why you see dips and numbers and the lag time on this program".
Officials said the new enhanced vetting techniques for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program include "additional screening".
Between January 20 (Trump's Inauguration Day) and December 31, 2017, the Trump administration took in 29,022 refugees, the lowest number since 2002.